I76 THE GAY GENIUS
with my hands". In his poem to Fan Chen he made a direct reference
to the "petty politicians" and we already know that in the one to Chou
Pin he made an implied comparison oŁ the ruling authorities to the owl.
In a poem on the Hangchow bore he had said that if the China Sea had
known of the good Emperor's intentions, it would "change the salt-
producing areas into mulberry fields". ^J
It is interesting to take a closer look at'two poems he wrote to one of
his best friends, Liu Shu, when the latter was dismissed from the capital
We shall understand better the officials' resentment and also get an idea
of the hidden meanings in most of Su Tungpo's lines. Incidentally, it
will be seen that a literal translation of some of the poems would be
meaningless to an English reader unless properly supported with foot-
notes. One of the poems says:
"How dare I express discontent in a time of peace?
I only sigh that my teachings are following you east
By your conversation, you can frighten the south of Huai River,
Axid after your departure stripped bare will be the north of Chi.
A lone stork does not have to sound alarm at midnight,
It is difficult to tell the sex of black crows . . ."
Su Tungpo confessed that he was a great admirer of this friend, and
that he had therefore compared him to Confucius by the phrase about
not expressing discontent. The second line refers to the great com-
mentator of the eastern Han dynasty, who was sending his disciple to
the east. The third line refers to a great, courageous official who quellfi
a plot for rebellion by the Prince of Huainan ("south of Huai River^
by his presence at the court. The fourth line refers to a passage in the
ancient classics saying that the best horses were produced in the north of
Chi district (modern Hopei), and furthermore, to a line by a Tang
poet, Han Yu, who on sending a friend off said that after his depar-
ture ao good horses were left in the countryside of the north of Chi.
It therefore meant that the whole court was now empty of good men.
The fifth line about the "lone stork" refers to an ancient passage where
a distinguished man in a company of petty men was compared to a
stork standing alone in a poultry yard of ducks and chickens. The,
implied meaning was that those at the court were just common fowl
and crying at midnight was supposed to be a function of the stork. TThP
last line was even more offensive, because there are two lines in the
Boo\ of Poetry which assert: "Everybody is saying I am a saint, but
who can distinguish a male from a female crow?" The court consisted,
therefore, of no more than a pack of black crows in which there was no
way of telling which was good and which was bad.
In a second satirical poem to the same friend he had written: